The gender pay gap: is it still a man’s world?
Did you know that the Queen (whose birthday is just around the corner) makes £45 million a year? That’s a lot of cake – but when it comes to salary, are women everywhere getting a fair slice? Is there still a gender pay gap?
A small slice, even for those at the top
The Independent reported that figures released by the UK Statistics Authority in January 2017, estimate that women hold only 12% of full-time jobs paying £150,000 or more. That includes PM Theresa May, but few others; even at that high a level, women can expect a pay disparity as wide as 50% compared to their male counterparts!
The findings, based on pay records from the HMRC, clearly show there’s a mountain to climb for female bosses before women at all levels earn the same as men do. International Women’s Day in March shone a much-needed spotlight on gender inequalities across the board, but cold hard cash provides one of the starkest examples. A 2016 study by the Office for National Statistics shows that women earn 9.4 per cent less than men.
Where inequalities collide
For certain ethnic minority working women in the UK, research by the Fawcett Society (PDF) found that “women from almost every minority ethnic group experience a pay gap with white British men” overall, and goes on to detail a complex picture of representation and inequalities in the ethnic majority and minorities in the UK.
What’s behind the discrepancy?
Audi’s 2017 Superbowl “Daughter” commercial illustrates the feelings of gender inequality quite bluntly. A father is watching his daughter compete in an all-male soapbox car race, and wonders whether he should tell her that “despite her education, her drive, her skills, her intelligence, she will automatically be valued as less than every man she ever meets”.
Speaking to Recruiter.com, Jeffery Tobias Halter (corporate gender strategist and president of strategic consultants YWomen) said that “regardless of your opinion of the ad, it raised a question that many companies do not want to deal with”, even though people are waking up to the reality.
He highlights some key driving factors that push the pay inequality gap:
• Far fewer women than men opt to negotiate their starting salary upwards, or a pay rise when the opportunity arises
• Bias in management systems – women get lower overall ratings than men for doing the same job
• Women on maternity leave get lower ratings for not working a full year – effectively punishing them for starting families
The children are the future – get them involved
The reason the message of the Audi commercial resonated so deeply with Halter is that he’s also founder of the Father of a Daughter Initiative, a voluntary scheme that advocates for women’s rights and enables dads to secure their daughters a stronger future.
With senior boardrooms of most companies comprising 85% men, he believes men have to do more as fathers to give their daughters, and all women, an equal chance in the workplace – and create meaningful long-term change.
However, even though Halter believes there is a long road ahead, a positive change is happening back on this side of the pond.
According to the Fawcett Society’s figures, British women aged 17-38 (aka ‘millennials’) have seen the male-female gender pay gap fall to as low as 5%, compared to the 9% in the generation born between 1966 and 1980, and 16% in the ‘baby boomer’ generation (born between 1946 and 1965). They say that “this reflects positive trends, including rising higher educational participation which women in particular have benefited from, and more women breaking into high-paying industries and occupations”.
How can you address this?
The short answer is ‘publicly, and before April 2018’.
The longer answer? Reporting your pay discrepancies is a requirement enforced by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
While gathering your figures will no doubt be time-consuming and complex, it could reap dividends – McKinsey & Company’s 2015 ‘Why diversity matters’ report makes it very clear that better representation across gender and ethnic backgrounds is very good for business. It’s also a golden opportunity for your business to lead the way.